Local vet in the PED trenches

If Alberta pork producers didn’t know Egan Brockhoff’s name a year ago, they do now.

If Alberta pork producers didn’t know Egan Brockhoff’s name a year ago, they do now.

The veterinarian and partner in Prairie Swine Health Services of Red Deer has been front and centre in the battle to keep porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus out of this province. He’s spoken at Alberta Pork information meetings organized across the province and participated in seven producer teleconferences — the most recent last Thursday.

“Talk about serendipity,” said Brockhoff, who was serving as Alberta Pork’s biosecurity co-ordinator when the PED outbreak hit last spring.

“We did all of this work on biosecurity, introducing national biosecurity standards for the pork industry in 2012 and into 2013. Then, as PED came to Canada and the U.S., it just seemed natural for my role to continue as sort of helping them with biosecurity education and program development.”

The virus, which kills virtually every piglet it infects, has devastated the American hog industry. Millions of pigs have died and it’s estimated that 75 per cent of the U.S. sow herd is infected.

PED has gained a foothold in Canada, with most of the confirmed cases in Ontario but others found in Manitoba, Quebec and Prince Edward Island.

Alberta’s substantial herd has not been affected, which Brockhoff thinks is more than luck.

“We were just really well-prepared when the U.S. broke with their first case of PED n May 2013,” he said. “Our producers have a great cultural mindset of biosecurity, and that’s not something that I see everywhere I work in the world.”

Brockhoff said it’s been gratifying to see Alberta maintain its PED-free status and producers earn decent profits after years of losses.

“I think people are excited about going into their barns every day. Prices are very good, and coming off six years of very, very poor prices all of them have a renewed sense of enthusiasm and passion for what they’re doing — and that’s exciting to be part of.”

PED does remain a serious threat, warned Brockhoff, especially given the integration of the Canadian and American pork industries.

“We move a lot of pigs from Alberta down into the U.S. Midwest. And when they arrive there, those trucks and trailers are potentially being exposed to virus.”

The key, he said, is vigilance and a commitment to biosecurity.

“If everyone respects this virus and how easy it is to transmit, we’re gong to continue to keep Alberta PED free. And the longer we keep Alberta PED-free, the more successful our pork industry will be.”

In June, Brockhoff was recognized for his efforts with a Pork Industry Ambassador Award at the Alberta Pork Congress.

“To be recognized by the industry you serve, that’s pretty amazing,” he said. “I’m an Alberta farm boy and my family still farms, and I do what I do because I love working with farmers and agriculture.”

After growing up on a mixed farm south of Camrose, Brockhoff attended Olds College and then Augustana University. He eventually earned a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

Brockhoff is the current president of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association and has served as a clinical instructor for swine medicine and surgery in the faculty of veterinary medicine at the University of Calgary for a number of years. At Prairie Swine Health Services, his practice takes him across Alberta and into Saskatchewan, and even to Iowa and Minnesota.

“I do a fair bit of work in Asia as well,” said Brockhoff.

During his years in the pork industry, biosecurity was often more of a “discussion point,” he acknowledged, with protocols related to things like barn access and truck washing lacking the urgency they deserved. That changed last May.

“I would say the threat of PED has moved everyone to take those things on with conviction.”

That’s encouraging, said Brockhoff, and bodes well for the future security of Alberta’s pork industry.

“We’re in a great position if we can continue to keep this disease out of Alberta.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

More than 120,000 Albertans have signed up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the first two days of appointment bookings. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta Health Services apologizes after seniors struggle to book vaccine appointments

The CEO and president of Alberta Health Services is apologizing after seniors… Continue reading

Red Deer’s Kyle Moore, 26, will be a houseguest on Season 9 of Big Brother Canada. (Photo courtesy Big Brother Canada)
Red Deer man will be a houseguest on Big Brother Canada

A Red Deer man will be a houseguest on the upcoming season… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

Students walk into Hunting Hills High School, which is one of the Red Deer Public Schools with solar panels on its roof. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school was placed in lockdown following potential threat

Hunting Hills High School was placed in a lockdown Friday after Red… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Wetaskiwin RCMP say a Maskwacis man died after he was struck by a vehicle. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Clare’s Law in Saskatchewan used handful of times; Mounties review their role

REGINA — A first-of-its-kind law in Canada meant to warn those at… Continue reading

The Magpie river in Quebec is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Boreal River MANDATORY CREDIT
Quebec river granted legal rights as part of global ‘personhood’ movement

MONTREAL — With its kilometres of rapids and deep blue waters winding… Continue reading

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Need a knife? There are knives of all shapes and sizes at The Kitchen Store.
Hints from Heloise: Finding a good set of kitchen knives

Dear Readers: A good set of knives in the kitchen is a… Continue reading

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Most Read